What proper table etiquette looks like in East and Southeast Asia…


Mashable (by Chelsea Frisbie):

Whether you’re planning an international trip or you’re headed to a local cultural experience, it’s important to learn about the eating habits of the folks you’ll be dining with. What might seem silly to you could be incredibly important to someone else, so don’t judge.

Langford’s silverware shop has compiled a collection of the dining “Do’s” and “Don’ts”…

Here is an excerpt of East Asian and Southeast Asian countries’ dining etiquette.


Red skies and mud rain in China as apocalypse begins earlier than expected


RocketNews 24:

The apocalypse is clearly happening right now, and if you’re in China, Mongolia or that general region, you may want to go ahead and kiss your loved ones goodbye, because Cthulhu himself, or some other terrible dark deity, is already sending warning of the end times in the form of blood-red skies and freaking black stuff raining from the heavens. Sorry, guys, but we’re clearly all doomed.

The below photographs come from a city in Inner Mongolia (which is, confusingly, actually part of China) called Aershan, where, on April 16, the sky – apparently out of the, er… blue – turned such an unnaturally vibrant shade of red that many residents reportedly for realsies thought the end-times were nigh.

And who can blame them? I mean, look at it. That’s the kind of red only seen by those who have gazed into the mouth of madness and lived to tell the tale. We should know.


Of course, there’s also the Aershan, which we are suspicious isn’t mud at all but actually petrified pieces of unicorn soul being regurgitated by Dark Lord Cthulhu, whom you should probably repent to immediately just to be safe. In fact, you should go ahead and repent to whatever deities you can think of in a long, stream-of-consciousness ramble, preferably while wearing a sandwich board about the end times and a tinfoil hat. People will understand because, look at this!


Adding to the craziness is the fact that Beijing apparently experienced a bizarre sandstorm of Biblical proportions on the same day as Aershan’s apocalyptic mud rain. You might want to get started on bucket list of yours sometime soon.

A photo exploration of the nomadic culture in Mongolia

My Modern Met:

Always curious about the world around him, Santa Barbara-based photographer Brian Hodges recently traveled to Mongolia to document the everyday life of traditional nomadic communities throughout the country.

He spent his time getting to know the culture and living within a wandering community.

According to the artist:

These families migrate based on the season and the needs of their animals, who require ample grazing space and safeguarding from extreme temperatures.”

The collection of work visually describes the nomadic way of life. Viewers are introduced to rows of yurts that function as temporary homes, as well as various food, weapons, and daily activities such as playing basketball and riding on horseback. A number of these intimate scenes are featured in publisher Assouline’s upcoming book, Gypset Living.


Brian Hodges’ website

The Dukha tribe, Mongolia’s last nomadic reindeer herders

My Modern Met:

After living in Nepal and exploring Tibet and the Himalayas for more than a decade, photographer Hamid Sardar-Afkhami decided he would travel to outer Mongolia to document the nomadic tribes and their unique way of life. A scholar of Tibetan and Mongol languages who received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Sanskrit and Tibetan Studies, Sardar was just the right person to capture the Dukha people, Mongolia’s last nomadic reindeer herders. The Dukha are an ancient group of people of Turk descent who are dependent on reindeer for their way of life. In addition to milk and cheese, the reindeer provide transportation for hunting. They’re ridden to hunt wild elk and boar.

The Dukha tribe is quickly disappearing. Only about 44 Dukha families remain, or between 200 to 400 people. In the 1970s, it’s estimated that there was a population of about 2,000 reindeer but that number has since dwindled to about 600.

Sardar has not only captured fascinating photos of this lost culture, he shot a film called The Reindeer People which followed a family on its seasonal migrations.

Synopsis:In Northern Mongolia, there exists a sacred alliance between people, ancestor spirits and reindeer. This film is an intimate portrait of a family of Dukha reindeer nomads following their migration through the forests of Mongolia’s Hovsgol province. They move with a herd of about a hundred reindeer through a sacred forest inhabited by the spirits of their ancestors, who communicate to the living through songs. The oldest Dukha, is a divine seer, a 96-year old shaman, called Tsuyan. She is the link between the healing songs of the forest ancestors, her people and their reindeer. She is the centerpiece of an extraordinary adventure that unites people and animals in one of the wildest regions of Mongolia – where people still live and hunt in a forest dominated by supernatural beings. To live in harmony with them, people had to learn to respect nature and animals and to pass down their beliefs, from generation to generation, by invoking the song-lines of their deceased ancestors.”

The film earned a jury prize for Best Film on Mountain Culture at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Hamid Sardar-Afkhami’s website

Asian remedies that will cure your hangover


Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup

Audrey Magazine (by Jianne Lasaten):

Sure, Asian glow is one thing to worry about, but what about those nights when things go a bit too far and you end up taking one (or five) more shots than intended? Hopefully you got home safe and sound (that’s what’s most important, after all).

But when you wake up the next day, you have to face an immediate problem. When the world is still spinning and you feel too nauseous to move, you know you’ve been hit with the dreaded hangover. For my friends and I, a comforting bowl of pho usually does the trick. But what helps everyone else?

Buzzfeed shared their list of interesting traditional hangover remedies from around the world. Below, we bring you the hangover cures, Asian style! We have to warn you though, you may have to be a brave one to try a few of these…

Philippines: Balut and Rice


Ah, yes. The signature “weird” delicacy of the Philippines is also a well-known hangover cure. According to the Travel Channel, balut, which is a developing duck embryo, contains cysteine– a substance that breaks down alcoholic toxins in the liver.


China: Congee


This rice porridge contains ginger, garlic and scallions. All three ingredients combined should help ease those headaches.


Japan: Umeboshi


Umeboshi is a pickled sour plum that is well-known for its health benefits. It contains natural bacteria, enzymes, organic acids and alkaline. These help eliminate excessive acidity in the body.


Mongolia: Picked Sheep Eye in Tomato Juice


Commonly known as the “Mongolian Mary,” this beverage is not for the faint of heart. Tomato juice contains simple sugars to boost your glucose levels back up as well as re-hydrate you after a night of drinking. The significance of the sheep eye? Well, that’s still a mystery.


South Korea: Haejangguk


South Korea definitely came prepared because Haejangguk literally translates into “soup to cure a hangover.” Although the recipe differs in every region, this spicy beef broth usually contains pork, spinach, cabbage, onions and congealed ox blood.


Indonesia: Kaya Toast

Courtesy of latimes.com

This traditional Indonesian breakfast will satisfy all of your sweet and salty hangover cravings (ladies, this would probably be just as helpful for that time of month). Warm toasted bread slices are served with salted butter and Kaya Jam, a sweet mixture of coconut milk, sugar, eggs, and pandan.


Bangladesh: Coconut Water


We can’t argue with this one. Coconut water is known to have a significant amount of potassium and will keep you hydrated.


Thailand: Pad Kee Mao


Nicknamed “drunken noodles,” this spicy dish is said to be a favorite among Thai men after a night of drinking. It usually consists of wide rice noodles, ground beef (or other meat), basil and other spices, onions and bell peppers.

Why billionaire Jack Ma hired a Tai Chi master as his personal bodyguard

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Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently became the richest man in Asia with a net worth of $28.6 billion according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Naturally, someone that important should hire some muscle, only Jack Ma hired a master of Tai Chi instead.li 4
Tai Chi, made famous by slow-moving elderly people in parks, isn’t traditionally known as a fighting technique. It focuses on soft, internal power rather than hard power, which we would attribute to fighting styles in kung fu or karate. As a master of the flow, Li Tianjin can use Tai Chi as an incredible form of self-defense At 35-years-old, Li stands at just over 5-foot-6-inches weighing 188 pounds. Before accepting the quest of guarding the eccentric but frail billionaire Jack Ma, Li was a coach at the Tai Chi Temple in Hangzhou.

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Li was born in the birthplace of Tai Chi in Chenjiagou, Wen County, in Henan Province.

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He began his practice of Tai Chi at the age of 8.
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By the time he was 14, Li became the apprentice of Wang Xi’an, a grandmaster of Chen-style Tai Chi, which can definitely be used as physical self defense. At 19, he won his first Tai Chi competition and went on to win several titles on the national level.

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A Jack Ma biography in Chinese, titled “Ma Yun in Cloth Shoes,” tells 27 stories that shaped Ma’s life, one of which took place in Mongolia when Li allegedly destroyed a wrestler “in the blink of an eye.”

Once, Jack Ma and some members of the Nature Conservancy went to Hulun Buir Grassland in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for a study. There, a tenacious Mongolian wrestler approached them with a challenge: ”Three of you can pick one of us to have a fight.” Li came forward and replied, “Which one is the best wrestler among you all? Come fight with me.” Unsurprisingly, the low-profile Tai Chi master defeated the best Mongolian wrestler among them.

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Tai Chi has also heavily influenced Jack Ma’s life philosophy, and he sticks to three principles — calm, follow and abandon. Always remain calm no matter what, follow the flow after knowing one’s strength, and abandon your burden in life. Nobody better mess with Jack Ma.

This woman escaped from North Korea. This is what she has to say…

The Independent:

When silence is not an option…

The young North Korean defector has spoken out against the brutal regime she escaped and has urged the world to take action to help people in her home country. Addressing 1,300 delegates from 190 countries at the One Young World summit in Dublin last night, Yeonmi Park condemned the state’s “holocaust” of its own people and called on the world to “help free the people of North Korea”.

How did she escape?

Ms Park, 21, who is from Hyesan, a city in the northern Ryanggang province, fled to China aged 13, along with her mother, after her father was sentenced to 17 years in prison for trading metal. Her father subsequently joined the pair in China after bribing his prison guards, but died of cancer in 2008.

What happened next?

Ms Park and her mother fled to South Korea via Mongolia. After they arrived, Ms Park was reunited with her sister – who is three years older and had disappeared seven years earlier. Ms Park found it difficult to adjust to life in South Korea, however. “I couldn’t trust anything,” she told i. “I had no idea about the concept of freedom or human rights.”

How did she learn to cope?

Ms Park, who is studying for a degree in criminal justice, read George Orwell’s Animal Farm in 2011. “Everything made sense for me; I read it five times. I realised North Korea is using power to oppress people. North Koreans deserve to be free.”

Is that why she decided to speak out?

Defectors often don’t talk about their experiences; they want to forget. I know how painful it is,” she said. “I had to tell my story for the people still living in terror. People have to know about this.”

How does she hope to effect change?

There is a holocaust going on in my country. The world needs to acknowledge that and do something to help the North Koreans.”



Amazing Race winner wrestles 100 Mongolians

With today’s online media platforms, independent artists and filmmakers have the opportunity to showcase their work to audiences around the world. Newly released on iTunes, Wrestling Mongolia, a film about two friends who find themselves wrestling 100 Mongolians for their TV show, proves to be a fun, heartwarming, albeit unusual, family film. I was initially intrigued by the title of this film, as I had never seen a film about or set in Mongolia. Wrestling is considered one of the three most important “manly skills.” It is the most popular sport, and people all of the country participate.

The story follows the eccentric Will Green, who dreams of having his own TV show. He attempts to entertain audiences by filming himself doing crazy things, (such as pogo sticking across the Golden Gate bridge 10 times,) for his YouTube channel. After meeting a TV producer who encourages him to do a show about wrestling, he decides to head to Mongolia with his friend and cameraman, Simon, to wrestle 100 Mongolians and get it all on tape. The film features three main characters, Will (Tyler MacNiven, Season 9 Amazing Race winner) Simon (Omi Vaidya,) and Chuluun (Boum-Yalagch Olzod) their Mongolian guide. Will and Simon discover that their plan would not be as easy to accomplish as expected, and find their friendship gets the ultimate test.

Although having a small cast, the actors did a wonderful job bringing each scene to life. The relationship between Will and Simon proves not only comedic but also has a redeeming quality that keeps the audience rooting for both of them until the end. Newcomer and native Mongolian, Boum-Yalagch Olzod, portrays the perfect sensei- type figure to the lost boys. Olzod’s performance brings the movie and story together.

Director Kenny Meehan did an extraordinary job of bringing the audience into the exotic land of Mongolia with the breathtaking visuals. I had a chance to speak with Kenny Meehan about the film, cast, and obstacles they faced while shooting in a foreign country.


Parents of Japanese woman abducted by North Korea meet their granddaughter for first time


Shigeru Yokota (L) looks on as his wife Sakie (R) answers questions during a press conference in Kawasaki, a suburb of Tokyo, on March 17, 2014.  The ageing parents of their daughter Megumi, who was kidnapped in 1977 by North Korean agents and taken to North Korea as a schoolgirl and allegedly died there, met with Megumi's daughter Kim Eun-Gyong for the first time and spent five days last week in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

Shigeru Yokota (L) looks on as his wife Sakie (R) answers questions during a press conference in Kawasaki, a suburb of Tokyo, on March 17, 2014. The ageing parents of their daughter Megumi, who was kidnapped in 1977 by North Korean agents and taken to North Korea as a schoolgirl and allegedly died there, met with Megumi’s daughter Kim Eun-Gyong for the first time and spent five days last week in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator.

TOKYO – The parents of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea in 1977 were allowed to see their North Korean-born granddaughter for the first time last week at a secret meeting in Mongolia, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday.

The meeting in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Bator, between the parents of Megumi Yokota, who disappeared in Japan on her way home from school when she was 13, and her daughter, Kim Eun-gyong, now 26, according to Japanese news media, appeared to be a goodwill gesture by North Korea toward Japan.

Yokota, who died in 1994, according to North Korea, has been the subject of foreign and Japanese documentary films and also manga comics, making her perhaps the best-known of more than a dozen Japanese citizens known to have been kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and ’80s.

The ministry said her parents, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, 81 and 78, met Kim for several days last week, though it provided few details. Yokota’s former husband, Kim Young-nam, a South Korean who was also kidnapped by the North, may have also been present, according to Japan’s Kyodo News Agency.

The Asahi Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper, quoted unnamed government officials as saying that Kim’s young child – the Yokotas’ great-grandchild – was also present. The age and sex of the child were not provided.

Japanese news media said the meeting was agreed upon during informal talks between Japanese and North Korean officials this month in Shenyang, China. Those talks, on the sidelines of a meeting of the two nations’ Red Cross societies, were aimed at restarting an official dialogue between the two estranged nations, which was frozen after North Korea launched a large rocket over Japan in December 2012.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan has reached out to North Korea, sending a top aide to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, last year in an effort to resolve lingering questions over the fate of the abductees. A breakthrough on this issue could open the way for the resumption of talks toward normalizing relations. Those talks were disrupted a decade ago, when North Korea first admitted to Junichiro Koizumi, then Japan’s prime minister and Abe’s political mentor, that it had kidnapped 13 Japanese citizens.


AP Photo/Kyodo News, File

Kim Un Kyong, who’s Japanese mother Megumi Yokota was adducted by North Korea in 1977, is moved to tears while speaking about her Japanese grandparents, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, during a press conference at a hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea. Japan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Sunday, March 16, 2014, that Shigeru Yokota and his wife Sakie spent spent time with their Korean-born granddaughter Kim, for the first time over several days last week in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Kim is 26 years old, Japanese media said.

Check out this link:

Parents of Japanese woman abducted by North Korea meet their granddaughter for first time


Skating through China’s ghost city – Lost in Ordos

It’s no surprise that China is a big country, not much more of one to think that Chinese cities develop to accommodate the population. When development though, exceeds the growth of populace – therein lies an interesting conundrum. Such is the story of Ordos in Inner Mongolia: built to accommodate millions, yet only hosting a population in the tens of thousands. The Red Bull European skate team opportunistically ventured into the wealthy, yet sometimes eerily desolate city – frequently nicknamed “The Ghost City” – to check out the pristine, untouched spots of the locale.

Shredders such as Thaynan Costa, Daniel Pannemann, and Alex Mizurov ran amuck through Ordos City’s abundance of smooth, futuristic spots.